I have a few SBDU frames and recently decided that if I’m going to add to the collection, it had to be something different to the red/black/yellow ‘Team’ livery frame. The early 80s TI-Raleighs are the iconic bikes people think of when they think of the SBDU and Ilkeston. I have one. I spent so long putting my 753 Team Pro together and it is the star of my collection. My 531 Pro Super gave me the taste for the different frames that came out of the SBDU. The red paint and chrome fork blades and rear stays on this frame all appear to be completely original – the French 531 Professional frame and fork transfers also add a hint of a ‘difference’ to it. I also have a 753 Randonneur. I haven’t seen another example of one of these SBDU frames. Its original colour was black and it was ordered via my old shop, Denton Cycles. Again, it is another SBDU frame with a difference.
I’m always on the look out for something just that little bit different from the SBDU, and then a frame popped up for sale a couple of weeks ago. It was listed simply as a ‘SBDU Ilkeston 531 frame’. But differences immediately jumped out and got my interest… (these are the eBay images)
Why is this different?
— The majority of SBDU frames that I have seen are Reynolds 753 or 531 – this frame is made from the more rare 531 SL (Special Lightweight) – a thinner, lighter gauge tube to standard 531, giving it a similar weight to 753
— Even the 531 SL transfer is different – the 4 stars (★★531★★) surrounding the horizontal ‘531’ is different to the std. diagonal 531 SL transfer
— It has a foil head badge instead of the riveted metal head badge
— Vertical rear dropouts
— Shimano dropouts instead of Campagnolo
— “shot in”, or “fast back” seat stays – not necessarily unusual for SBDU, but unusual for this period in 1982
— Rear brake outer cable stops on top of top tube – this is not unheard of but typically these stops are fitted to the lower left hand side of the top tube
Based on these differences and a ‘hunch’ about what it was, I made an offer and bought it!
Although I’ve titled this post using the words “Time Trial Special”, it is not immediately clear what this frame is. Is it a Road frame or is it a Time Trial frame?
An SBDU Time Trial Special will typically have vertical rear dropouts, foil head badge and be made from a light weight tube set. This frame fits that description. But in theory, an SBDU Road frame could share those characteristics. So, how can you tell if a frame is a Time Trial Special?
Measuring the geometry is the best way to verify this frame. Of all the measurements you could take, fork rake is one of the tell-tale factors! Thankfully, Mike Mullett provided information to the Yahoo Team Pro group with the details between rake on road and time trial forks. A standard SBDU road frame will have a rake of 42mm. A Time Trial Special will have a rake of 38mm. So how do you measure fork rake? Fork rake, or offset, is the distance between the centre of the dropout and the centre line of the steerer…
Out came the tools to remove the bottom bracket and headset so that I could measure the fork rake.
The Campagnolo Record headset was in beautiful condition; the chrome exterior and bearing surfaces were excellent for its age and it will definitely get reused in another project. The bottom bracket was tougher to get out. But if you have the tools, even the tightest fixed cup will come out! The best way, without wasting time is to fasten a good quality tool to the cup (you cannot get better than the Campagnolo tool itself), clamp the tool in a vice and use the frame as the leverage you need to unscrew the cup.
The bottom bracket axle was stamped with 68-P-120 ‘Z’, it had thin wall cups and measured 109mm. It also had a 1mm spacer behind the fixed cup, either to fix chain line or move a chain ring away from a chain stay. This is a Campagnolo 1046 Record Pista (Track) bottom bracket – possibly an indication that this bike was ridden with a single chain ring?
Once the crown race was knocked off the forks, they were put on a flat level surface, fork blades leveled and the 2 measurements (in the diagram above) were taken – my rake came out at 38mm which matches Mike’s information for a Time Trial Special Fork Rake.
It is always an ideal opportunity when the frame and forks are separated and completely stripped, to note the weight. The frame felt light but I was surprised when they were placed on the scales.
1651 grams for the frame and 659 grams for the forks. These weights are almost the same as my 753 frame which are 1645 grams and 639 grams.
Another point to check now that the forks are removed is to see if the steerer column has a matching serial number. The frame is stamped ‘SB5464’ so I’m expecting to see ‘5464’ stamped on the steerer. This matching fork stamping didn’t always happen; some forks have other markings such as builders initials, but more often than not, frame and forks were matched by serial numbers. It indicates to me that the fork hasn’t been replaced at some point due to damage or other factors.
Not only is the 5464 stamp visible, but these forks are in such good original condition, the tube manufacturers markings of ‘Reynolds’ ‘BUTTED’ ’16/13′ are also visible.
Everything about this frame and fork point to it definitely being a Time Trial Special.
The paint on this frame is original and has survived well for 33 years considering how incredibly thinly the paint has been applied. There are some marks on the top tube ‘RALEIGH’ transfer, but apart from the odd touch up here and there, the finish is in great condition.
The circular yellow transfer you can see on the down tube is the Veterans Time Trial Association (VTTA) – so it certainly looks like this did see some intended use! It will stay on the frame as it is part of its history and appearance.
The vertical dropouts that signify an SBDU Time Trial Special frame are Shimano and not the normal Campagnolo. I need to do more research to understand why they were used instead of Campagnolo.
The “shot in” rear seat stays, or “fast back” configuration where the stays fasten directly to the seat fastening isn’t unusual on SBDU frames, but compared to other frames, this is a very early frame for this type of stay to appear on. I have a later SBDU frame with the same setup but the top of left hand stay is threaded to accept a bolt fastening inserted in the right hand side. This frame seems to have a keyed slot on the left hand side to accept a double headed bolt.
The frame tubing is Reynolds 531 Special Lightweight, introduced into the Reynolds range in the mid 70s. This particular transfer has 4 stars and the re-wording to show that it was only the frame tubes that were butted and not the blades and stays, they were taper gauge. The other style of 531 SL transfer used the wording “Butted frame tubes, fork blades and stays” which other companies said was misleading.
The tubing on this frame is Metric. This means it has a 28.0 mm seat tube, a 28.0 mm down tube and a 26.0 mm top tube. The seat pin size is 27.0 mm
As you can see from all the images, the original paint and transfers have survived really well and it looks amazing now that it has been cleaned up. It isn’t suffering from the dreaded rust and I have absolutely no intention of doing any renovation to either the paint or transfers except trying to make a better job of the touching up that it has already had.
So there it is, a 1982 Time Trial Special, in original paint, with frame number SB5464, built with Reynolds 531 Special Lightweight Metric tubing and Shimano vertical dropouts.